My wife and I are expecting our first within the next couple weeks, and while we have made significant preparations, we remain a little confused as to what constitutes a "Birth Plan"

We have already...

  • Prepared a Go Bag of all the things we need for the hospital
  • Know the hospital we're going to
  • Have registered our information with said hospital
  • Know what things constitute "go to the hospital immediately"
  • My workplace is fully informed of the progress and is planning to give me time off
  • Made arrangements for who will catch and cut the umbilical cord
  • Have discussed what levels of pain medications to use

Is there anything major I'm missing?

  • 2
    In my experience, birth plans are discussed with the delivering (dr/other) ahead of time, and include things like lighting, sounds, decisions on episiotomy, baby on abdomen before cord cut/baby cleaned, birth under water, etc. Stuff like that. Being prepared isn't the same as having a plan. Having said that, with my first, my only plan was to have a healthy baby and get an epidural. That's it. I'm glad I had no plan; nothing would have happened the way I planned anyway (I ended up having a CS). Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 10:40
  • 1
    The mother might have strong views. A birth plan allows her to convey those to medical staff in a busy environment. Both of you should be prepared to drop the plan because sometimes things do need to change. You obviously need to list any allergies and list any medications the mother is on.
    – DanBeale
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 22:08

2 Answers 2


I am not sure I can qualify this as an answer, but you sound like a man from your question, so let me comment on 2 of your non-missing elements:

  • Made arrangements for who will catch and cut the umbilical cord

    Well, it won't be her! If it is her, then this is far from your first child.

  • Have discussed what levels of pain medications to use

    Such a nice thought to have, isn't it? Yeah, well, life might not care so much when the birth gets a goin' -- remember that it is her giving birth, not you, so if she changes her mind, let her. You really don't want her to be in a mood to show you why you should have given in later on!

Now... I planned, planned, planned... the Midwife, all the Nurses, and even the backup Doctor had printed copies of instructions. I had everything planned! Random umbilical cord around the neck -- oh, yeah: prepared!

Reality didn't seem to care about my confidence level. Suddenly it was taking too long, the umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck, she got stuck mid-way, they needed to monitor her pulse by putting a thing into her head before she was out, the first one was a dud and had to do it again... and I had to make all the decisions on the fly!

Yeah... going to all the classes, reading 4 or 5 books on birth, and everything else I could imagine just did not have me fully ready for reality.

That said, I had the one thing that was my "fail safe": her mother and I had agreed on the general principles. My decisions reflected her decisions. And where her input was needed, I deferred to her (the baby wasn't coming out of me!)

Add to your list (as the guy who isn't healing) that the baby NEVER LEAVES YOUR PRESENCE!

When you go and s/he gets shots, feet printed, etc. and you notice very few, if any, other parents there and know that your child has a caring parent there, you'll appreciate it so much!

I hope that helps, but still not sure that this 100% qualifies as an answer.

(Oh, and congrats on your first! It's truly the most stressful.)

  • 2
    Some fathers want to cut the cord. Other fathers want to be in the room but definitely do not want to go anywhere near the cord. Some parents want to keep cord blood. A few parents want to keep the placenta so they can cook it and eat it. Letting people know in advance makes things easier.
    – DanBeale
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 22:11
  • @DanBeale Agreed. We kept the placenta and buried it. I caught and cut the cord. Those were our preferences and, ofc, others will vary. Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 23:31

A birth plan is normally something you'd bring with to the hospital / birth centre / whatever and discuss with the midwives / whoever is providing care. If you have some continuity of care from pre-natal care then you'd already have discussed this with the care providers in advance.

It's a way of summarising and collecting details that are important to you about the birth process itself - so yes, stuff like who will cut the cord, and what pain medication you are prepared to accept, but also if you particularly want baby cleaned or not cleaned before being given to you, if you've been doing hypnobirthing and there are particular mantras / phrases that will help you, if there are topics of conversation that should particularly be avoided etc. Anything at all that is important to you that your care providers should be aware of.

There are loads of example or template birth plans online, which google easily turns up. Read a few and take the bits that are useful to you and discard the bits that aren't.

And when you are done go and read this: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/jamie-and-jeffs-birth-plan and have a good laugh. And remind yourselves that neither the baby nor Mother Nature can read and despite your best intentions it may all have to be thrown out of the window in the event!

  • Hilarious! Just hilarious!
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 14:07

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